Monthly Archives: June 2012

Grave Babies – Gothdammit EP

Despite sounding like they were being played back on some ghostly turntable from The Twilight Zone, Gothdammit is a surprisingly melodic EP from Seattle’s Grave Babies.

Sure, the band sounds like murky proto-punk mining the macabre, but it’s all for show. Essentially, Grave Babies is a lo-fi band that really likes Joy Division, which makes me wonder why they seem to spend so much effort constructing an image that isn’t indicative of their sound.

It seems to me that having a blatantly unsettling name and bizarre cover art would alienate most potential listeners, save for the goth crowd. With the goofy made-up word they’ve chosen as the name of their EP, you would think they were trying to distance themselves from that scene.

Artist: Grave Babies
Album: Gothdammit
Label: Hardly Art

Freebie Nightmare mp3 (courtesy of Hardly Art)

Buy Grave Babies Gothdammit

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Isidore – Life Somewhere Else

Remember the opening scene of Donnie Darko? Where a confused Jakey Gylls pedals down a mountain in his PJs to the opening twangs of Under The Milky Way by The Church?

Steve Kilbey of The Church and Jeffrey Cain of Alabama’s defunct Remy Zero have returned as Isidore with their second album, Life Somewhere Else, and it could easily be the soundtrack for a really depressing movie about middle age. Hell, it could have been the soundtrack for the Donnie Darko sequel in which Donnie was kind of a selfish dick who opted not to travel back in time to sacrifice himself for the people he loved.

Artist: Isidore
Album: Life Somewhere Else
Label: Communicating Vessels

Buy Isidore Life Somewhere Else

*author’s note – the song used at the beginning of Donnie Darko is The Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen, not Under The Milky Way by The Church, although that song does appear in the film. The same analysis applies, however I liked that first paragraph too much to change it. Also, I’m lazy. I was planning on embedding the scene into the body of this post, but since it highlights my incompetence, here it is.

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Chromatics – Kill For Love

Following the release of 2007’s Night Drive, Portland’s Chromatics lurked in the shadows of electronic pop, existing in the car stereos of chain smoking, leather jacket wearing archetypes of cool. With Johnny Jewel’s contribution to the Drive soundtrack, interest in Chromatics increased exponentially, and the band has taken the opportunity to release what may be considered their magnum opus.

Kill For Love is atmospheric, moody and seductive. The dreamy quality of the songs immerses you in a totally vivid world that manages to be both frightening and inviting at the same time.

The music of Chromatics is often called cinematic. With a running time of almost 1 ½ hours, Kill For Love sounds like the soundtrack to some yet-to-be-filmed neo-noir masterpiece. It is one of those rare records that boast both style and substance.

Artist: Chromatics
Album: Kill For Love
Label: Italians Do It Better

Buy Chromatics Kill For Love

Download 11 tracks from Kill For Love (sans drums) courtesy of the band

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Kele – The Hunter EP

It’s safe to say that Kele Okereke’s solo career has polarized Bloc Party fans, but The Hunter is sure to elicit a chuckle from both camps for it’s sheer banality.

The lead single, “What Did I Do?“, features vocalist Lucy Taylor taking the reigns, relegating Kele to the chorus.  It has slick processed beats and a melancholic hook, making it appropriate for both the dance floor or an introspective headphone session.  As Kele and Taylor proclaim: “What did I do? / What did I do wrong?”, one can’t help but think that Kele is lamenting the misfire that has been his solo career.

The Hunter is nothing more than a trite attempt at emulating the dance music he is so fond of.  When the best song on the record barely even features your vocals, you have to start asking yourself some questions.

Artist: Kele
Album: The Hunter
Label: Wichita

Buy Kele The Hunter EP

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Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour/Golden Mile EP

In an age where indie music frontmen are as interchangeable as the prepubescent members of Menudo, you may not be familiar with the name Daniel Rossen. As a songwriter of Grizzly Bear and Department Of Eagles, Rossen has been hailed as a great talent with mainstream appeal. Hell, even my lamestreamer cousin has Two Weeks on her iPod.

The Silent Hour / Golden Mile EP marks Rossen’s first solo effort, however he traverses a familiar musical landscape. The press release even admits this, stating: ‘It is an output from a musician you know, yet reveals the core you might not know he had’. I took that metaphysical nonsense to mean that this EP would sound exactly like Grizzly Bear. And it does. So all I can really muster is a less than enthusiastic “meh”.

Artist: Daniel Rossen
Album: Silent Hour/Golden Mile
Label: Warp

Buy Daniel Rossen Silent Hour/Golden Mile

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Muscles – Manhood

Featuring a steady barrage of beeps, blips, chunky bass and pounding rhythms, Manhood is the second album by Australian electro-pimp, Muscles.

As the album’s name would suggest, the lyrics mostly deal with entering adulthood, and what that means for a hipster DJ who never wants to grow up. Thematically it’s all a bunch of nonsense, because no one is listening to Muscles for his beer-soaked philosophical musings on life.

Why one would intentionally give himself a name so dumb is beyond me, but I suspect that he may have an obsession with those tiny plastic wrestling figures from the 80s, M.U.S.C.L.E. (Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere). We are of course; talking about the same guy who called his debut album Guns Babes Lemonade and has consistently opted for some of the worst album art I’ve ever seen, so I guess it makes sense.

Artist: Muscles
Album: Manhood
Label: Modular

Buy Muscles Manhood

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Gem Club – Breakers

If you’re jonesing for mopey minimalist pieces, Breakers, the debut from Massachusetts duo Gem Club, is for you.

A gem is a mineral that is distinguished as a precious or semi-precious stone, depending on rarity and quality. The sombre music of Breakers is hardly rare, especially when considering the abundance of records that feature hushed vocals and sparse instrumentation.

The quality of Gem Club is debatable, some of their music is undeniably pretty, while some of it is a chore to listen to. One thing is for sure though, Breakers is attractive, but super sad.

Artist: Gem Club
Album: Breakers
Label: Hardly Art

Buy Gem Club Breakers

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Husky – Forever So

Imagine your dog just died, your slutty girlfriend cheated on you, and now you’re listening to every sad song that Morrissey ever wrote in one sitting. What would you do?  Sit in isolation and cry?  Contemplate your life in a forlornly fashion?  If you were Australia’s Husky Gawenda and Gideon Preiss, you would write some songs that would ultimately become your debut album, Forever So.

Forever So is a meticulously crafted collection of dreamy pop songs with catchy hooks and memorable melodies.  They are able to capture vanishing hopes and dwindling dreams to create something beautiful. I wish I could go through a period of crushing despair so that I could write an album like this one. Unfortunately I’m the one who breaks hearts, not the one who has his heart broken.

Artist: Husky
Album: Forever So
Label: Sub Pop

Freebie mp3 of History’s Door (courtesy of Sub Pop)

Buy Husky Forever So

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Opossom – Electric Hawaii

If you were to take the DIY aesthetic of any lo-fi buzzband circa 2009-2010, jam it in a blender with Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys and proceed to garnish the chunky froth it spat out with a sliver of The Flaming Lips, you would have New Zealand’s Opossom.

Despite the intended (and assumed) deliciousness, their debut album, Electric Hawaii is a bore. The only time my ears perked up was when I mistook track five as The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) by David Seville and those kooky anthropomorphic striped squirrels.

Artist: Opossom
Album: Electric Hawaii
Label: Create/Control

Buy Opposom Electric Hawaii

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Van She – Idea Of Happiness

Sydney’s Van She is the definition of a guilty pleasure. When I moved to Australia, I realized Van She suffered from disdain and abhorrence among the people of their native country. But they’re still incredibly popular.

Which means that a lot of the people that claim they hate Van She are secretly lapping up the band’s brand of shimmering electronica.

Their second album, Idea of Happiness, is full of cringe worthy lyrics like “I feel Calypso” (?) and sunbaked tropical vibes inspired by the sounds of the Caribbean. The album is light and breezy, lacking substance but making up for it with flurries of infectious beats and uplifting synths. Perfect for some daiquiri-fueled ass shaking.

Artist: Van She
Album: Idea Of Happiness
Label: Modular

Buy Van She Idea Of Happiness

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